Jonas von Essen is the new World Memory Champion and the first Scandinavian one. After a perfect year of competitions he completed this epic run with taking the crown from Johannes Mallow. The Swedish memory master seemed to ease through three days of tough disciplines showing the world how easy it can be to turn from a normal memory to an out-of-the-world genius within less than two years.
Behind the curtain
The World Memory Championship 2013 took place in Croydon, a district of London – and it was brilliant. There has been little to complain about compared to the stuff that actually worked well which is amazing for such a huge event. Of course some things went wrong and there was a suggestion board filled with stuff, f.e. terrible translations, suggesting paying for a proper translator or omitted certificates for new Grand Masters. But even if that might have been annoying to those who did suffer from it, it also seems acceptable if you look at the whole picture. And we can and will always learn from that for the future.
Jennifer Goddard made it all happen
Organizer and arbiter Jennifer Goddard did a wonderful job before the competition, preparing a million PDFs with info graphics and schedules for every possible thing of interest. She organized all disciplines and made sure that everything runs smoothly. And it did! She even put her own private life to the side for weeks and invested money, time and her health to make that happen. She did not even go to bed between days two and three and worked all night long on putting the results online. Thank you so much for that, Jennifer. And please make sure to delegate more of that stuff to trustworthy people in the future or we will lose you eventually because no one can cope with that for long.
We had a great venue which was a bit hidden behind the market in front of it but looked just lovely from the inside. The people working at the Croydon Conference Centre did an amazing job helping us with all our million demands we put on them and still managed to stay super friendly and helpful. The breakdown of the internet on day three was annoying for all the followers who were waiting for fresh news and results but it did not disturb the competition at all.
Amazing team of arbiters
There have been over 20 volunteers and arbiters including myself who did the best they could to check, mark, double-check and announce the results as quickly as possible. We managed to prepare everything with such a great timing thanks to Gaby Kappus who was managing the arbiters as well as Andy “the dictionary” Fong who supervised everything in between the arbiters room and the competitor’s room. Dominic O’Brien was the main arbiter in the competitor’s room like always and radiated his usual severity and sharpness. Whenever he is around you know that there is no mischief going on.
We were able to check the Hour Cards in far less time than everyone anticipated and when the Spoken Numbers came in we dropped all our Random Words we were still checking and flew through them like the wind. Therefore we gave the competitors the opportunity to now their results before the next attempt – which is absolutely crucial in my opinion. I had to check all German Random Words results which was probably the most crucial thing I did at the championship. Even Hour Cards seemed to be less delicate and difficult because I was the only one capable of reading German except for Gaby who was busy with other stuff and Level 3 arbiter Nathalie who speaks about a million different languages. I even had to take away 10 points from Johannes Mallow because a mistake was overseen by the first correction. It was a little bit painful to do that to my friend but rules are rules.
There was an awesome feedback to the arbiters by Gaby Kappus who informed us about certain mistakes we were doing with the markings to learn from that. She explained every single discipline right in time to prepare us for what was coming next including all rules and common mistakes done by competitors as well as arbiters. All arbiters were divided onto different tables with one table leader assigned to them who had the most experience. I was honored to fill out the role for mine and tried my best to make sure that everyone was up to their tasks.
Peace and Harmony
The ambiance in the competitor’s room was lovely as far as I can tell. I had little time to be there but even from that I picked up a wonderful feeling. Milan Ondra from Slovakia said to me at the price ceremony that he would never have anticipated such a familiar a friendly atmosphere. He compared it to Football where fans from each city attack each other on the street. This was more like a convention of gentle people interested in the same civilized hobby. The respect for each other was very high. And everyone kind of knew each other via Facebook and memory forums. Whenever I mentioned my website to someone I got a lot of compliments and gratitude for it. I am glad you all like it and know it. Sometimes I wish you would communicate that more with me. You know that you can leave comments under each article to express your thoughts right there, right then – right? I can tell little to none about the actual results. Check them yourself on the Official Memory Statistics or on the beautiful rankings on MemoCamp. I had no time to realize what was going on because there wasn’t any time for that. Sometimes I took myself a little break to wander through the corridor and the hall and take some pictures and shake some hands. But I merely knew who even won any of the disciplines. I will now have time to go through that all in retrospective. The only thing I stumbled upon during the competition was Johannes new world record with 501 Speed Numbers. I took the time to create a little video quadruple-checking his score and the second I finished Tony Buzan entered the room and – still filming showed him the result. It was a very funny scene because he replied to it in his typical Buzan-style. I am glad I was able to capture that moment.
Jonas was radiating victory from the beginning
After the first day I could feel that Jonas was about to win this championship. Simon Reinhard did not compete and Johannes had a bad first day. Someone told me he took a break in the memorization process which in his condition will take a lot of precious time and concentration. He seemed distracted and Jonas radiated the energy of a winner from the very first moment. It was just his time to become world champion.
I am glad I had the chance to help everyone with their requests as good as possible. Everyone showed me their deepest gratitude for that and I couldn’t ask for anything else. On the last day before the Speed Cards event it was clear that Jonas will win. Johannes seemed frustrated and I took the time to lift his spirit which he seemed to appreciate. It worked very well and instead of giving up he broke his personal best in Speed Cards and finally went under 30 seconds, getting the gold medal for that discipline. He seemed extremely relieved although he just has lost his title. It was a magical moment and thinking about that is still extremely touching.
Speaking of emotions I have to say that I was flying on these four days. I don’t know how it appeared to my surroundings but I have never been happier in my entire life. Every single negative emotion dissolved itself and was filled out with pure love. For the less spiritual people reading this just take it as a lot of happiness. All the others might believe me that this was a revelation to me. All my thoughts were pure and I knew that I have found my destiny. Memory Sports means the world to me and I want to give it back over my life time. Thank you all for letting me being a part of that.
I have got invited to Algeria, India, the Philippines, Hong Kong and I am planning to visit all of these places in 2014. I will find a way to make that happen. Many of you guys have asked me whether I have competed before. It seems that I have been away for too long. I just checked again and I have competed at FOURTEEN different competitions in the last ten years. So it is time for me to finally come back into the game. So from now on you will see more often again but as your rival rather than your arbiter.
Namaste, Aloha, So Much Love!